A Gold Mine

I finally finished reading David Murrow’s “Why Men Hate Going to Church (updated)”, after having put it down for a couple of months while I read other books and worked on other things.

The best I can say about this book is that it is a gold mine, in the truest sense of the term. You see, my wife watches Gold Rush on Discovery Channel, so I wind up watching quite a bit of it with her. On that show, various crews move around literally TONS of earth, searching for a few specks of gold. That is EXACTLY what you will be doing reading this book – searching through tons of detritus (to put it gently) for the occasional HINT of something worth noting.

To say I was disappointed in this book would be a statement in contention for understatement of the year, at least. Upon seeing the title and even a couple of the other BookSneeze reviews, I actually requested BookSneeze make this available in eBook format, which is how I read all my books now. I was hoping for something as mind blowing and concrete as Shaunti Feldhan’s seminal work, For Women Only: What You Need to Know About the Inner Lives of Men. Instead, the “research” in this book at one point literally consisted of the author standing outside an Alaska sporting goods store and asking 97 men what they thought was masculine or feminine about church.

And that is the most glaring flaw of this book – little to no actual research to base the author’s claims on. Instead, he draws on what he personally sees and how he personally feels. Which is fine, if the title would have been “Why Me and My Friends Hate Going to Church”. But in purporting to talk about a genuinely real crisis, the author falls flat on his face due to so little research on the topic. Add to this the guy’s blatant homophobia and misogyny – he dislikes any song that mentions a love of Jesus, because it sounds too gay – and you pretty much have a recipe for disaster. Indeed, one of the reasons I put the book down for a couple of months was because of the sheer number of times I was almost ready to destroy my Kindle just to get this book away from me. But I agreed to participate in the BookSneeze program (a truly great program, btw), and I didn’t want to review the book without completing it, so here I sit, having now done so.

Overall, I’d give this book 0.5 stars out of 5. It has enough good in it that if you’re DESPERATE for something to read and can get your hands on a free copy, I’d say it is better than nothing – but not by much. Had I paid for the book, I’d be demanding my money back.

And now, the disclaimer:

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. (Clearly!) The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

New Project: Sons of Thunder

So I announced this on my facebook and twitter streams a month ago, but I want to get it up here too…

After 2 years of political blogging and a lifetime of reading, I’ve decided to turn my pursuits in a slightly different direction, at least personally (I’m still a programmer by day):

I’m going to write my own book. Hopefully y’all will like it. The people who have seen the first chapter seem to think it has promise, and I’m really looking forward to telling the story. Writing it in a month (the initial goal) was a dismal failure, but write it I shall, and hopefully I’ll have it out in time for the Libertarian Party of Georgia’s 2012 Convention on Feb 24, 2012.

The book’s title will be Sons of Thunder, and it tells the tale of how brothers John and James came to acquire some pretty impressive state of the art bionic arms, as well as their relationship with their father Zebediah and the role he plays. Along the way, it will be at times very intimate, with both a courtroom drama and an action/ adventure sharing the space of the same book. I’ve yet to see anyone even attempt this, so it should be an interesting adventure writing it!

I’ll let y’all in on more details as I get it up, but one reason for this post is because I want to go ahead and hopefully find some people who want to advance read this thing and help me edit it and make it better. Right now I am 7K words in on a book that will eventually turn out to be more than likely in the 70K+ range, though we’ll see once I get more written exactly where it is going on that aspect. If you’re interested in helping me out, give me a shout and I’ll get you what I’ve currently got as the first chapter to whet your appetite. 😀

We know I can do pretty decent at political blogging, the question becomes how good am I at writing fiction? Let’s find out, shall we?

Christians’ Cain Conundrum

Last December, 5 days before the second most holy day of the year for Christians, now Presidential Candidate Herman Cain wrote a piece for Erick Erickson’s Red State where he states this (emphasis mine):

For 30 years, He learned the ways of the world without becoming of the world. He then changed the world for the better.

He led without a mandate. He taught without a script. His common sense parables filled people with promise and compassion, His words forever inspiring.

He never condemned what others believed – just sin, evil and corruption.

He helped the poor without one government program. He healed the sick without a government health care system. He feed the hungry without food stamps. And everywhere He went, it turned into a rally, attracting large crowds, and giving them hope, encouragement and inspiration.

For three years He was unemployed, and never collected an unemployment check. Nevertheless, he completed all the work He needed to get done. He didn’t travel by private jet. He walked and sailed, and sometimes traveled on a donkey.

But they made Him walk when He was arrested and taken to jail, and no, He was not read any Miranda Rights. He was arrested for just being who He was and doing nothing wrong. And when they tried Him in court, He never said a mumbling word.

He didn’t have a lawyer, nor did He care about who judged Him.
His judge was a higher power.

The liberal court found Him guilty of false offences and sentenced Him to death, all because He changed the hearts and minds of men with an army of 12.

Herman was trying to paint Christ as the “Perfect Conservative” (the title of the post, in fact). But here’s the problem:

At least a couple of Herman’s points are DIRECTLY contradicted by the Biblical record, specifically the points I emphasized above.

The first is perhaps the most obvious, as even many non-Christians have heard the phrase “turn the other cheek” associated with Christ. Indeed, in that particularly famous passage, what is Christ doing? He is directly condemning the beliefs of the Pharisees, REPEATEDLY.

The passage comes just after the Beatitudes, during the famous Sermon on the Mount, and is found in Matthew 5:21-47 (King James Version presented here, though the linked site will let you read it in dang near any version you want):

21 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.25 Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.26 Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.

27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.31 It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: 32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.

33 Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: 34 But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne:35 Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.36 Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.37 But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. 42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?

That is SIX TIMES in that one passage that Christ “condemns what others believe”, yet Herman is saying it never happened? The old-timers have a word for this: heresy.

And that isn’t even the only easily proven heresy Cain has in this article that he penned. Let’s look at the “liberal court” line.

In fact, it wasn’t a “liberal” court, CERTAINLY not by contemporary American standards. Instead, as we see in Matthew 26:57-65:

57 And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled.58 But Peter followed him afar off unto the high priest’s palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end.59 Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death;60 But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses,61 And said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days.62 And the high priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee?63 But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.64 Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.65 Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy.

Indeed, it was the “high priest” and the “council”, ie, what was then known as the Sanhedrin – the Jewish Supreme Court, essentially. This group of extremely conservative religious leaders, whose beliefs Christ had been condemning quite frequently over the last three years or so, brought in “false witnesses” (verse 60) and convicted Christ of blasphemy, which was (and is, depending on the level of orthodox) a capital offense.

Now, I’m not quite enough of a Biblical scholar to know the exact nuances of the definition of “blasphemy” the Sanhedrin ascribed to then, but I CAN link to the current Webster definition of: blasphemy

Do Cain’s false teachings meet the definition of that word? I’ll leave that to the reader.

Now, here is where Cain truly becomes a conundrum for Christians who might otherwise want to support him over others due to differences in religious belief with say, Mitt Romney or Jon Huntsman’s Mormonism or even Gary Johnson’s Lutheranism or whatever any of the other candidates claim: Is it right to claim you support the “infallible, inerrant word of God” and yet also support a preacher who actively promotes false teachings? After all, does not the Apostle Paul condemn false teaching and those who spread it at least a few times?

Indeed, check out Titus 1:10-11:

10 For there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception, especially those of the circumcision group.11 They must be silenced, because they are disrupting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain

and Romans 16:17:

17 I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.

I don’t know about y’all, but I consider the Christian education I received as a kid to be pretty good. My parents and church stressed learning as much about the Bible as possible. I learned all kinds of facts and figures, could quote quite a few memory verses, could put all the books in order no matter how jumbled they were, could easily find my way quickly to any passage in a print Bible (the net didn’t exist/ wasn’t widely used back then), and quite a few other things that were fairly routine for the environment I was in.

I was taught as I have discussed here, that Christ condemned the religious leaders of his day repeatedly and was eventually executed because of it. Herman Cain’s heretical teaching is contrary to that, and more precisely contrary to what the Bible explicitly teaches.

Thus, the Christians’ Cain Conundrum is easily solved, according to Paul: We should keep away from him.

Do you love God? America? the Constitution? Liberty? Any of the Above?

I just finished reading Judge Andrew Napolitano’s It is Dangerous To Be Right When the Government Is Wrong: The Case for Personal Freedom, and the Insta-Review is simple: If you claim to love the Constitution, If you claim to love Liberty, If you claim to love America, If you claim to love God, if even a single one of the previous fits you, READ THIS BOOK!

Even as a former Libertarian Party official and founder of my own somewhat influential libertarian leaning political blog, I was not overly aware of the Judge’s positions prior to reading this book, even though his work is frequently cited among my political allies and genuine personal friends. The reason is simple: I detest talk radio and TV pundits with a passion – I don’t watch ANY of them, not even ones I would agree with, as it seems I would with the Judge.

In this book, the Judge starts by explaining what the concept of “Natural Rights” and the “Natural Law” are. Quite simply, they are the innate rights we all share as individual humans, whether you believe – as the Judge explains – that these rights came from our Creator or simply because we are human.

From that foundation, the Judge proceeds to tackle a wide range of issues, from cause celebres of the right (immigration, abortion, gun rights, etc) to cause celebres of the left (unions, free speech, privacy, etc), and a whole lot of stuff in between. In each case, he explains what the relevant Natural Law is and how government in the United States actively infringes upon that Law. In other words, this is a book that is bound to have some chapters that will piss off dang near everyone in the country, other than those of us with a pre-existing commitment to Liberty, pure and simple. (You can typically, though not exclusively, find us in the Libertarian Party.)

And because of this, it is a book that every single American needs to read.

Quite simply, the Judge makes the case for freedom in some ways I’ve previously discussed within my own activism, but also ways I had never thought of before, such as when he presents the case for immigration as a property rights issue or when he quotes the man I personally recruited into political blogging at my former website, Tom Knighton (now of Laws-N-Saugages.com), regarding prostitution and the idea that ALL men pay for sex somehow, someway – whether it be cash or a wedding ring. (BTW: Here is the link to the actual United Liberty – a site ran by another good friend of mine, Jason Pyepost that the Judge quotes.)

I’ll add in just a couple of quotes from the book that I sent out via my Kindle, and I’ll close:

Drugs and victimless crime:

A prime example of a victimless crime is the private consumption of alcohol, or any drug for that matter. These substances surely affect one’s person, but in what way are they invading or assaulting another’s body, rights, or property? One might argue that they lead to dangerous behavior when one is in an altered state, but until a person whose judgment is impaired actually invades or assaults another’s body, rights, or property, he should not be punished, and the act of consumption itself should be free from regulation as an application of the right to do to one’s body as one chooses

Guns on school property:

The lack of media coverage on the advantages of guns on campus feeds into the ignorance of Americans with regard to firearms in government-owned schools. Just fifteen years ago, many states allowed concealed-handgun permit holders to carry guns on school property, and there were no major incidents.

Minimum Wage and Illegal Immigration:

Alternatively, if the minimum wage were eliminated, the opposite effect would occur; employers would pay people who live here legally fair market value—not the government-mandated amount—for the work they do. And as a result, immigrants would be less inclined to move here for fear of not finding work.

Prostitution, aka “Austin 3:16 writ large”:

I can rent my body to the owner of a coal mine for thirty years, who will use my work to strip the earth of natural resources, but a woman cannot rent her body to the same coal mine owner for a few hours of private time? Why? Because the government says so, that’s why.

In conclusion, YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK. I don’t care what your political beliefs are, this book WILL challenge them. (For example: I tend to be skeptical of many of my friends claims about the Fed and more specifically, “sound money”, but the Judge makes a compelling case for that as well.)

And I leave you with two final quotes from the Judge:

Do we have a two-party system in America today? I think not. We have one Big Government Party. It has a Republican wing that prefers war, deficits, assaults on civil liberties, and corporate welfare; and a Democratic wing that prefers war, taxes, assaults on commercial liberties, and individual welfare. Neither wing is devoted to the Constitution, and members of both wings openly mock it.

No longer shall Americans sit idly by at home and accept the status quo while injustice surrounds us. It is time to start peacefully fighting the injustice that takes place in our state legislatures as well as in Washington, D.C.

Ironic considering the nature of this book, but here’s the required legal disclaimer:

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Footloose and Christianity

Last Friday on my way to work, I heard the “family friendly” review of the Footloose remake that opened this weekend on my way to work via Augusta’s WAFJ, and the reviewer was adamantly opposed to the movie because of the way he felt it portrayed Christians.

I actually had the chance to see the remake at The Big Mo, a drive in theater out on the rural edge of Aiken County, SC, not far from where I currently live. After looking for the original on Netflix and all the movie because channels I pay for and not finding it, it turned out I already OWNED the original thanks to my wife, so we also watched it Sunday, barely 12 hrs after seeing the remake.

In both movies, Rev Shaw Moore is the local preacher on the City Council of Bomont, and the father of the female lead character Ariel.

But the performances differ fairly dramatically. In John Lithgow’s portrayal in the original version, Rev Moore preaches quite a bit of Hellfire and brimstone regarding dancing, rock music, sex, and drugs, but he is also the voice of reason when his parishioners want to burn Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five at the local library. In the remake, Randy Quaid’s Rev Shaw Moore is the same Hellfire and brimstone preacher, without the reasonableness of the book burning scene, which has been completely removed from the remake.

The reviewer for WAFJ thinks that this is somehow portraying Christianity in a negative light. I posit that the two portrayals of Rev Moore were in line with public perception of Christianity at the time – and we Christians have ourselves to blame for the fairly strictly negative way our Savior is portrayed in the new movie.

So what has changed since the 1984 release of the original movie and the nearly 30 year later release of the new one?

Christians will probably point to less God in our schools or some other perceived assault on Christianity, but I believe that a more objective look at the situation will reveal two major changes in America over the last 30 years that led to this shift in public perception:

1) The rise of the so-called “Moral Majority” and Christian leaders’ involvement in State and National politics and

2) the rise of the Christian counterculture

In the mid and later 80s, after a “successful” purge of “liberals” from the Southern Baptist Convention in the late 70s, SBC leaders such as Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, and some US Senator named Al Gore began rising to prominence in the national political arena pushing for Congress to regulate rap, rock, and other musics and entertainments. In 1994, this rise – and subsequent marriage to the Republican Party – of evangelical Christian leaders became cemented in the public perception with the out-of-the-blue Republican takeover of Congress, led in part by then-Congressman and now Presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich. The marriage was thus consummated when these religious and political leaders began crucifying sitting President Bill Clinton for having the audacity to cheat on his wife (current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton) by getting a blowjob from an intern in the Oval Office – which was and is simply the President’s formal office in the house he currently lives in. And then, of course, you have the entire Presidency of George W Bush and his (not so) “compassionate conservatism”.

What did the public see in these Christian leaders? Not very much Christ, that’s for dang sure. They saw a whole lot of “morality” being crammed down their throats via legislation such as the Federal “Defense of Marriage Act”, a whole lot of end-of-the-world doomsaying any time a judge allowed gays to get married (which at least a few mainstream Protestant denominations, such as the Episcopalians, allow in their churches)… and not very much love.

At the same time that all of this (and much more) was going down politically, a “Christian” counter culture began to rise. I don’t recall which came first, but I do know that by the late 80s, artists such as Michael W Smith, Steven Curtis Chapman, Jars of Clay, Audio Adrenaline, Newsboys, and DC Talk were getting a lot of attention in church circles. These acts have only gone on to sell in the neighborhood of 100 MILLION albums combined. But a true “counter culture” can’t be just music. At the same time these artists were beginning to rise, “family friendly” (code for “Christian plus a few secular songs OCCASSIONALLY”) radio began to rise, as well as “family friendly” movies and Christian books of every possible stripe. Yes, you can even find “Christian” supernatural romances in 2011. In addition to these entertainment options, more and more businesses and (obviously) private schools began advertising themselves as “Christian”, and indeed, some megachurches or prominent members thereof run very successful businesses in virtually every town and industry.

By 2011, it has become entirely possible to raise a child from conception through death at old age and never once leave the comforting cocoon of the “Christian” counter culture – and apparently was getting this way even in the late 90s, when Steven Curtis Chapman penned “The Change”. What should have been a wake up call was simply devoured in the latest consumer entertainment feast.

It is a matter of the chicken and the egg, but with the existence of this counter culture and its many adherents, more and more Christians began to remove themselves more and more from “the world” – even while proclaiming their desire to “reach” it.

And as these Christians began to remove themselves from what they saw as bad influences, the so-called “cycle of failure” began to revolve faster and faster. Christians saw “evil”, fled from it, the evil doesn’t have any light to counteract it, so grows darker. Christians see the increasing darkness, and flee further, and the cycle repeats ad nauseum.

Thus, while Christianity – and much more importantly, Christianity’s Savior – was seen as fairly benign or even a good thing, if not THE good thing, at my birth in the early 80s, before my 30th birthday Christianity has become seen as a joke, at best, and an outright menace to the very people Christ commanded us to love.

Thus, the rise of both the Christian counterculture and its marriage to the GOP has led us from John Lithgow’s Rev Shaw Moore to Randy Quaid’s.

And it is entirely our fault as Christians.

What should we do about this? I have some ideas, but I’d like to hear yours. Sound off in the comments or via one of my social media feeds. Let’s have a dialogue. Maybe later I’ll write a follow up post with some of the better ideas I see and hear.

Herman Cain and Ron Paul on the Housing Bubble

Last night, an image quickly surfaced on Facebook of two quotes on the housing bubble, one from Herman Cain in 2005 and one from Ron Paul said to have been in 2001.

I asked my friend John Jay Myers, one of the first people I saw to post the pic, to provide evidence of Cain’s quote, and he got it to me today.

First, here’s the image in question:

And here is the relevant passage from Herman Cain in 2005. The full piece can be seen here. The passage is the 7th-9th paragraphs (the emphasized bits are in the image):

While none of the newscasters said the sky was falling, they did their best to pretend. When Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan came out and said the economy was strong, CBS did man on the street interviews to pretend the opposite was true. On May 3, ABCs Betsy Stark predicted the new job numbers would be out soon and the only question was how bad a hit the economy would take. When those numbers came in higher than predicted, nobody at ABC seemed to recall the networks cloudy crystal ball.

I wish that was all. Its not. You could write a book just on how poor the coverage has been of the alleged housing bubble. The media have been foretelling a massive bust in housing prices for months now. On May 19, ABCs Elizabeth Vargas said: The run up in housing prices is now beginning to look something like the boom in Internet stocks, and we know what happened there. That kind of ignorance makes homeowners fear that their most expensive possession could turn worthless overnight.

That wont happen. No matter how much the media compared Bush to Herbert Hoover last year, this is not the Great Depression. Now theyve given up on that failed comparison, but their coverage of the president has gotten worse.

Wouldn’t want to be accused of using “misleading or inaccurate” statements about Herman, now would we?

NaNoWriMo 2011

National Novel Writing Month is something one of my twitter friends has been talking up for quite a while, and I’m leaning towards being a participant this year.

The basic idea is ti write an entire 50K word manuscript in a single 30 day month. MY idea for participating is that it will give me something go distract myself from politics with every November. As a recovering politic-addict, I figure NaNoWriMo could be my equivalent to a smoker’s chewing gum – and who knows, MAYBE I could actually make money at it (unlike politics)?

Because i’m getting into it nearly at the last second, i’m thinking this year’s novel will be eerily similar to people who have known me since Jan 1, 2000 – where the story will open up. Most names will be changed, some places will be, and some situations will be added or enhanced to turn it from ‘autobiography’ to ‘fiction’, and i’m hoping it will be an entertaining read once done.

So a former blogger, who used to write 2k word posts daily fairly easily, is taking on the NaNoWriMo challenge? Should be fairly easy, right? Well, remember: i’ll still have a wife, 3 pets, a full time job, and other factors to consider. But i’m hoping things go smoothly.

I’ll let you know in November. 😀

BookSneeze Review: With: Reimagining The Way You Relate to God by Skye Jethani

Skye Jethani’s With: Reimagining The Way You Relate to God was my first book through the BookSneeze review program, and I’m honestly glad I found the program and this book on it. You see, this is one of the more mind blowing books I’ve ever read – which is saying something, considering I’ve read books such as Ted Dekker’s Circle Series and most books Bill Myers has put out.

If you want to quit reading this review now, I’ll leave you with this: READ THIS BOOK. You will NOT regret it.

Some details:

Mr. Jethani – an editor of a leading Christian magazine – uses the first half of the book to talk about the four basic ways most of us relate to God:

Life UNDER God is basically what I call “Talibaptists”, though Mr. Jethani never gets CLOSE to using that word. These people believe that we must live life strictly by the Bible and that if we don’t, we’re doomed.

Life OVER God essentially uses the Bible as a divine “how to” manual, nothing more, nothing less. These are the people that keep the “self help” authors in business.

Life FROM God sees God as a divine bank account that can never run out. This is the consumer culture variant of Christianity.

Life FOR God sees life as a mission. These people will go to Outer Mongolia at the drop of a hat – and still miss the point.

In each of the first four chapters, Mr. Jethani delves into each of these first four ways of relating to God, and shows both their strengths (yes, they have them), and their critical weaknesses.

In the remainder of the book, Mr. Jethani describes a life WITH God, what it looks like, and why it is the epitome of a Biblical understanding of our relationship to God. While I’ve tweeted a lot of amazing quotes from this book, you’ll just have to read it to see them for yourself, as well as the remaining treasure trove I simply couldn’t tweet out for many reasons.

In my Kindle edition, the appendices began at roughly 80% or so, and included both a discussion on some “how to pray” techniques as well as a brief discussion guide for the book. Overall, the only weakness that I saw – though it was a bit glaring – was that when I hit the appendices, I was still looking for a more succinct summation chapter than the one we got.

Overall, a VERY strong book, and I would give it a 5/5 without any hesitation at all.

Now time for some legalese:

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

It Is Official… x2!

So I told work this morning, and therefore I can put it out publicly now: I am leaving my job at the Savannah River Site outside of Augusta Ga in two weeks for a *SENIOR* Software Developer position at a leading anesthesiologist billing firm.

But that’s not all folks!

In addition to a bit of upheaval at work, I’m also continuing to slow down my (at least official) political efforts. Over the weekend, I resigned as the Legislative Director of the Libertarian Party of Georgia. While remaining committed to the cause of Liberty, I simply do not have the time to devote to official activity, at least at the level that said activity needs to be worked.

So I’m choosing instead to spend what time I have with my wife and persuing other interests – such as reading Mere Churchianity by Michael Spencer, which I HIGHLY recommend. I’ve also joined a review program from Thomas Nelson Publishers, where they send me free books in exchange for online reviews both here and at Amazon.com. I’m currently reading With: Reimagining the Way You Relate to God by Skye Jethani, and I’ll post my review once I’m finished. So far, that book is VERY impressive, and I’m looking forward to seeing what Mr. Jethani – the senior editor of Leadership Journal – has to say.

Requisite Sept 11 Post

Where was I? I was an 18 yo kid living at home while going to college at the end of the summer that began with his HS graduation. To this day, that summer is probably the “iconic” summer of my life – though this past summer, 10 yrs later, certainly rivaled it. I had gone to Cedar Point, seen the very plane JFK’s body was flown to DC in, in which LBJ was sworn in in, went hiking at Amicalola, gone to my first NSCS Leadership Summit, where I had a chance to drive a 2001 yellow Mustang convertible for the weekend (and gone to Universal Islands of Adventure for a few hrs)…

… and on Sept 11 itself, around 8:30 in the morning, I was driving down I-75 from Cartersville to Kennesaw, with a 12 pack of Mello Yello in the passenger seat, intending to get what I then called “pseudo drunk” over a breakup over the weekend from a girl I had been dating for the later part of the summer. (BTW: Drink 12 mello yellos back to back – guarantee the guy standing next to you won’t be able to tell you’re not drunk! ;))

I was listening to 104.7 The Fish Atlanta, as I did every morning in that era, when news reports came on of a plane hitting the World Trade Center. My honest-to-God thought was that it was a little Cessna, that it happens relatively often, and that it wasn’t THAT big of a deal – about the same as any other small plane crash, which were relatively common in North Ga at the time.

I got to school/ work – already one and the same place – and learned the full magnitude of what was transpiring. When I got up to 5th floor of KSU’s Science Building, which then held the offices of the CSIS Dept, we began reading online what was happening – then the websites came down, as the traffic was simply too much for the servers to handle. So we scrambled around to try to find a TV, which we set up in the break room.

At 11:00, I went to class, as they had not been cancelled yet. It was Dr. Meg Murray’s CSIS 3600, Systems Analysis and Design (mostly a DB oriented course), but by then most people knew what had happened. Dr. Murray pretty simply told everyone that there would be no class today, because no one could possibly focus on class. So I went back to CSIS and did the last official thing I did for the day: I put up a post noting that school had been cancelled for the day and explaining why on the bulletin board that we ran at the time for the Programming 1 and 2 courses.

After that, I walked around campus for a bit, where many others were already organizing trips to NYC to help. Then I went home. Late that night, I wrote a piece (on paper, as I hadn’t discovered blogging yet and wouldn’t for nearly a decade) that concluded with the lines “May God have mercy on the souls of those who did this – because I sure as hell don’t.”

I actually found that piece at my parents’ house a year or two ago, and remember reading it and reliving writing it. I’m glad to say I’ve matured a bit in the intervening decade, and while I still have no sympathy for the actual attackers of that day, I’ve come to realize my and our role in producing them, and I’ve begun to actually try to end the cycle, to what degree I can. Granted, I can’t change an entire culture, but I can change my own heart, and maybe I can even appeal to yours. One of the grave problems of that day was that our culture had been demonized in the Muslim culture of the era, and in turn their culture has now been demonized in ours. For some insight into what Amnerican Muslims are REALLY like, check out 30Mosques.com. Heck, instead of relying on Bil OReilly, Ann Coulter, and Glenn Beck to tell you what Muslims believe, how about picking up a copy of the Koran and READING IT FOR YOURSELF? I did, about a month ago, and so far it has been an intriguing read – not at all what I had been taught to think it said. (BTW: Many might want to do the same project with the Bible… #justsaying…)

Finally, I want to leave you with a couple of links that I found genuinely interesting/ profound/ sad today:

Jonathan Merritt’s post in Q


Why They Hate Us

and this quote, which Merritt uses a piece of:

The silence of most Christians and the giddy enthusiasm of a few, as well as the ubiquity of flags and patriotic extravaganzas in allegedly evangelical churches, says to me that American Christians may look back upon our response to 9/11 as our greatest Christological defeat. It was shattering to admit that we had lost the theological means to distinguish between the United States and the kingdom of God. The criminals who perpetrated 9/11 and the flag-waving boosters of our almost exclusively martial response were of one mind: that the nonviolent way of Jesus is stupid. All of us preachers share the shame; when our people felt very vulnerable, they reached for the flag, not the Cross.

September 11 has changed me. I’m going to preach as never before about Christ crucified as the answer to the question of what’s wrong with the world. I have also resolved to relentlessly reiterate from the pulpit that the worst day in history was not a Tuesday in New York, but a Friday in Jerusalem when a consortium of clergy and politicians colluded to run the world on our own terms by crucifying God’s own Son. -Will Willimon, presiding bishop of the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church

Thoughts and Musings From Jeff